Q:

How accurate is a medical information symptom checker online?

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Quick Answer

Online medical information symptom checkers are best used as a rough guide and not a definitive source of diagnoses, as Cutler PR warns. This is because these checkers do not incorporate certain essential factors, such as medical history and lifestyle, into their diagnoses, according to Everyone Healthy.

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Full Answer

A 2011 study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 80 percent of Internet users have sought medical information from the Internet, according to CNN. However, the information gathered from symptom checkers and other sources on the Internet should be used with caution.

This is because not all information on the web is reliable, and relying on information from a bad website is extremely dangerous, as CNN warns. To avoid potentially inaccurate information, Internet users should look for medical information on sites with a .org or .edu extension, or they should restrict themselves to websites run by organizations such as Mayo Clinic.

Information from online symptom checkers is typically useful for generating tentative diagnoses and determining methods that can be used to immediately relieve some symptoms, as CNN reports. Information from these checkers can also be used to determine when home care is adequate and when individuals should seek professional medical help.

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